Kafui Dey column: N is for No
N is for No
Just say no. If you get an invitation to speak on a topic about which you know next to nothing, the polite answer is “No”. It’s a case of “if you don’t know, you don’t show”. (see C and F above)
O is for Over-preparation
There is no such thing as being over-prepared. Research your audience and practise your speech over and over again. Excellent professionals ‘over-prepare’ and as a speaker you should aim to emulate them.
P is for Posture
Back straight, chin up, eyes alert. Your posture reflects your pride in yourself and the level of enthusiasm you have for your audience and your subject. No slouching allowed – unless you can come up with the names of five slouches whom you take seriously.
Q is for Questions
What will you be speaking about? Where and when are you speaking? Who is your audience? Why should they listen to you? How will you approach your address? What do you want your audience to do after your speech? These are just a few questions you need to ask any time you are invited to speak.
R is for Read
Top speakers are big readers. Read a book a week on a particular subject and in one year, you will be an expert - guaranteed. All that knowledge is bound to reflect in your speaking.
S is for Speed
If you are naturally a fast talker, slow down when you speak in public. Observe all the great speakers. They are in no particular hurry to get their message across – why should you?
T is for Training
Read books on speaking, watch videos on YouTube, enrol in courses. Attend seminars, get personal coaching – in short, get trained. This is the best way to develop into a much sought after speaker in your field.
U is for Underrate
You downplay any speaking engagement at your own risk. Every speaking opportunity – whether it’s a motivational talk for pupils or a sales presentation – requires research and preparation. Your best insurance against underrating your assignment is to over-prepare (see O above).
V is for Volume
Speak loudly if you want to make a point in a forceful way. Turn the volume down if you want to convey a feeling of calm and relaxation. Don’t acquire the reputation of ‘that boring speaker’ - vary the volume of your voice to reflect the content of your message and to affect the feelings of your audience.
W is for Water
Chilled water is Public Enemy Number 1 for your speaking tools – your vocal cords Room temperature water is your best friend. Drink enough water to keep your vocal words in good condition – and have some nearby in case you get a bad case cough.
X is for(e)Xpect
An audience will listen to you and expect, among other things, to be entertained. So begin with a story, ask rhetorical questions, quote from famous people, end with a stirring call to action. You are the movie director of the pictures in your audience’s mind - give them the drama the expect.
Y is for You
You are the only you there is with all your unique ideas and experiences. Yes by all means, model your speaking after the best examples and learn from all you can from them but remember this – it is far easier and more rewarding to be yourself.
Z is for Zone
Know your time zone and keep within it. It is a good idea to memorize your final words so that if you find yourself running out of time, you can cut straight to the end. The event organizers, your audience and the next speaker will appreciate your respect for their time.
So there you have it, the A to Z of Public Speaking. If you missed the first 13 tips, email me for them. Happy speaking!